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I am guessing that not a lot of RJ readers have heard of something named Mounjaro.  But thanks to heavy advertising on TV probably most have heard of drugs named Ozempic and Trulicity.  Maybe also Weygovy.  All of them are a semi-new class of diabetes and weight management drugs classed as semaglutides.   They all have what is known as a GLP-1 agonist, which is a glucose-related peptide.  And yes, turns out “agonist” is the opposite of an “antagonist” in that an agonist is a positive thing. 

All people’s bodies send a signal to the brain when the person has had enough to eat.  The signal tells the brain “Stop eating—you’re full.”  That does not operate optimally in many people.  The GLP-1 agonist makes sure the signal gets sent early.  Most of these drugs also physically slow down digestion so that not just mentally but quite literally physically the body hits “full” very quickly when eating.

Mounjaro is Lilly Pharmaceuticals relatively recent entrant to this class of medication, having been FDA approved for diabetes treatment in May 2022.  In addition to the GLP-1 agonist, Mounjaro also has a GIP ingredient, which is an insulinotropic polypeptide that produces more insulin and that when used in conjunction with a medication like Metformin can work wonders on blood glucose and substantially lower a person’s A1C, the longer term blood marker that tracks sugar levels in the body.

By now it is clear I know so much about this because I have been taking Mounjaro for the last twelve months and two weeks.  Anyone who knows me knows that for a lot of my adult life, I have struggled with my weight and have been heavy—maybe not morbidly obese but “obese” has been on my medical profile for a long time.  As happens for lots of people, that excess weight can lead to Type-2 diabetes and indeed, despite my doctor’s good warnings for some years, I did arrive at that unhappy diagnosis some years ago.

Initially I did OK managing things and getting my A1C into acceptable ranges—not normal but low enough to avoid most of the significant negative health situations to which diabetes leads.  But by a little over a year ago, I had not been doing well and my A1C had gone into dismal and dangerous territory and my daily blood sugar readings were also very simply bad.  I write all of this with no small sense of shame.

So when my doctor suggested I get in touch with a pharmacologist to check out some new treatment options, I agreed.  The pharmacist pushed me to try this new Lilly drug Mounjaro, a once weekly injection.  Again, I was ashamed it had come to this.  But now a year later I have lost over 60 pounds and have completely normal A1C and blood glucose readings all the time.  As I have told people, it feels like my brain has been re-wired when it comes to food.  I don’t crave food or think about it a lot.  I hardly touch sweets or desserts and don’t generally miss them at all.  And I do hit “full” quickly when eating but in ways that never leave me feeling deprived.  The change has been profound.

And thus the drug I was ashamed to have had to start 55 or so weeks ago is now a gift.  When a time or two my pharmacy had a hard time refilling the prescription due to heavy demand, I almost panicked.  In any event, I write all this as a grateful person (and also one whose health insurance makes this pricey medication a possibility).

Turns out, however, this also has introduced me to an area of controversy in society and in some medical circles.  Many physicians and dieticians have written articles claiming that the success of semaglutides shows that obesity is a disease not always fully within a person’s conscious control.  For too long we have fat-shamed people in our society, chalking up people who are overweight as lazy and as clearly lacking in motivation and self-control.  While not for a moment denying those things play a role (and did to a degree also for me), I also know that when the hormones and appetite-related signal senders in my body began to work right (as they do for many people), I was changed—changed in ways I don’t think I could have disciplined myself into making happen without some outside assistance.

Why am I writing this in a RJ blog?  Because although I have not read any articles on all of this written from a Christian or theological point of view—and I have read a lot of articles on this in the past year—clearly the issues flagged in wider society on how we view and treat people creep into church contexts too.  There are many things we do not understand.  Obesity is one.  But for a very long time all things related to mental illness—and today I would say also dementia—are in this league of dimly understood realities too.  Many of us know only too well—and many of us pastors have sadly observed—that there is a stigma attached to needing medication and therapy for depression, for treating bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Indeed, as a pastor I ran into people with some frequency who were sure that people living with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia did not exist in their congregation.  As pastor, I knew otherwise.  But others were ignorant of this precisely because those dealing with these realities do not dare speak up about it out of shame and maybe even a sense that the strength of their Christian faith would be called into question if they could not overcome mental issues through faith and prayer.

Jane Kenyon has a series of poems titled “Having It Out with Melancholy” in which she talks openly about her lifelong struggle with depression.  The shortest poem in that collection was titled “Suggestion from a Friend” and it goes like this:

You wouldn’t be so depressed

if you really believed in God.

There are many things we don’t understand but that perhaps we need to learn more about so as to avoid marginalizing and shaming people or making rash assumptions about why they are the way they are. 

On Sunday The Washington Post ran an article that featured a series of short vignettes written by readers about how the COVID pandemic has continued to shape their lives.   One woman from Illinois wrote that even now, three-and-a-half years after the initial COVID outbreak, she still wears a mask in public for the sake of her husband who has been immunocompromised by a non-Hodgkins lymphoma for years.  But she feels people’s puzzlement if not dismissive attitudes when they see her in her mask.  The last line of her brief testimony is a good way to end this blog for now.  “So the next time you see someone like me masked in an N95, please resist rolling your eyes. You have no idea what people are going through. And compassion costs you nothing.”

Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Daniel Meeter says:

    O Scott, thank you and bless you.

  • Lisa Vander Wal says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Scott. So many good points, but I resonate with the “if you really believed in God” line. Yet another way the church can offer criticism instead of support. Blessings to you!

  • Nathan DeWard says:

    Scott, thank you for sharing such a personal and vulnerable post. I found myself drawn to making parallels in my world of jail ministry.

    Your good friend, Darrell, is a gift to me and the organization we serve.

  • Jan Dykgraaf says:

    Thanks, Scott, for sharing your personal struggle. Perhaps your brave and honest example will encourage others to be more open with theirs as well.

  • Duane Kelderman says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this personal journey, Scott. And thank God for Mounjaro! I’m so glad it’s helping you be a healthier version of you. We need you around for a while!!

  • Thank you for this, Scott. Shame is a real thing when it comes to battles of our bodies and minds, and I wish it wasn’t so. But spreading a little light on that darkness is brave and a help to us all. Seeing, really truly seeing someone, and not making them feel bad for what’s there, feels like something Christ modeled that we need to get a whole lot better at doing.

  • RZ says:

    Yes! Thanks for your courageous leadership on the subject! And I suspect a lot of us, myself included, said nothing to you this past year simply because we knew not how to non-shame. We now celebrate with you!

  • Donna says:

    Pastor Hoezee,
    As a person with obesity who has been on this rollercoaster for a decade. I’m actively treating mine with a surgical, pharmaceutical, & a support group. Thank you for introducing this to the church wide community. Bias is something that is so subtle, we don’t notice the speck in our own eye until it is a log. If you’re interested in more information on combating bias & ensuring treatments continue to exist, the Obesity Action Coalition is a great organization to reach out to. Congratulations & welcome to the club no one “wants” to be in, but accepts membership as good stewards of Creation.

  • Robert Otte says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I was diagnosed with diabetes about one year ago. So far I have managed it with diet and exercise. Me year later appointment next month will determine how successful I have been.

  • James Vanden Bosch says:

    Have I mentioned lately what a good man and good essayist you are? You are a blessing, Scott.

  • Jack says:

    Thank you, Scott, so very much. I have been “normal” for 35 years because of meds and help. Before that: five psychiatric hospitals, 13 shock treatments and humiliation from the church I attended. My present church makes nothing of my history other than affirmation and compassion.
    Thank you for your brave vulnerability.

  • Gertrude Bokhout says:

    Thanks for this Scot. Hans is coping with type 2 and is coping well. The neurologist has prescribed anti depressant med due to his Parkinson’s which also have helped him keep his AiCs in check. Also the Neuropathy is tough to cope with but he never complains. Together we thank God for great medical care and His continuous presence and sustaining grace.

  • Jeff Barker says:

    Beautiful Scott. Thank you.

  • Carol Van Klompenburg says:

    I don’t judge people who suffer from anxiety/depression. (I am one of them–and my medication works well.) I accept people wearing masks. But you helped me see how much I (sometimes without even being conscious of it) judge people with weight issues. Thanks much!

  • Arthur Tuls says:

    Thank-you, Scott. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 56. Treatment has progressed to my dependence on an insulin pump, which has been an important blessing. Like sin, diabetes requires
    vigilance, but even so we’re never quite free from it. Your essay reveals your wisdom, compassion,
    and humility–what a great trio of traits for a leader (or for anyone)! We are thankful for you.

  • Cathy Smith says:

    So informative and helpful. I care for my brother who suffers from diabetes and other issues. I appreciate this vulnerable post!

  • James C Dekker says:

    Simply YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY, Scott, for you and all the bold folks who have responded. Oh yes–Thanks oodles

  • Harvey says:

    A very helpful blog, Scott, which gives our weight IQ a gentle shove in the right direction and tempers the bias in a good direction as well. I’m grateful with you and so many others that these meds are available and are effective evidence that less can be more in some (perhaps many?) situations.

  • David J Feddes says:

    I am glad to hear of your improved health, Scott, and I appreciate the insights you shared here.

  • Rodney Haveman says:

    Thank you for this Scott, and God bless you on your journey.
    Compassion costs you nothing. I’m taking that line with me.
    As an aside, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 12 years old, been living with it for 36 years now, some up, some down. I was diagnosed with bipolar about 5 years ago. Somehow no one in my congregation has every questioned my faith because I take insulin, but some are uneasy with the fact that I take medicine for my bipolar disorder. I wonder how this relates to our gnostic tendencies in the church. I also wonder if we’re so judgmental for people who struggle with weight because of that same Gnosticism?
    Again, thank you.

  • Jack Nyenhuis says:

    Thanks, Scott, for revealing your vulnerabilities, and for showing us how to support and encourage one another in our struggles. I am thankful that your health has improved, and that your prospects for the future are brighter. Your writings, like your preaching, enrich and bless us. May our Lord grant you grace and peace in abundance!

  • Ken Baker says:

    Thank you, Scott. I am grateful for your vulnerability in sharing your journey and know it is deeply encouraging for so many of us who struggle with weight control.

  • Ronald Hofman says:

    Scott- great points. Culture has allowed society to blame folks for their weight when indeed all epidemiological research points to genetic underpinnings of weight- no different than all of our physical traits. Allowing folks to embrace their physical makeup as good no matter sets the table for therapeutic endeavors just like we do for sickle cell, asthma, cystic fibrosis.

    Sadly though the cost of these life changing medications is such that few get access. Getting these started during adolescence is the answer. We need to figure out a way to balance the cost/ profit equation and make sure the Medicaid recipient gets the same access as Scott.

    • Jan Heerspink says:

      Ron, thank you for this post. I’m sure you see it often in your practice. We have to get better in this country to take care of all of our citizens. And thanks for your post, Scott.

  • Sara Davila says:

    Ive been on Mounjaro 2.5 for six months now and have lost 10 lbs. No more weight loss has happened. I have headaches and blurred vision and wish they would go away. My blood sugar runs from 135 to 180 and sometimes in the 200s. I was hoping Mounjaro would help my A1C and triglecerides better but it hasnt.

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